Bellay. I. Gnillannie du, seigneur de Langey, a French soldier and diplomatist, born near Montmirail in 1491, died at St. Symphorien, Jan. 9, 1543. He entered the army at an early age, and was rapidly promoted, attracting the attention and securing the confidence of Francis I., who employed him not only as a soldier - showing such skill as to be called by a contemporary the greatest captain of his time - but also in special diplomatic missions to England, Germany, and Italy. In 1537 he was made viceroy of Piedmont, and ruled over the province till the end of 1542, when, although very sick and obliged to make the journey in a litter, he set out to carry some important news to the king. He died on the way at the castle of St. Symphorien, without delivering his message. His Memoires were published in Paris in 1569. He wrote a work on the art of war, published in 1548; and also an Epitome de l'antiquite des Gaules (Paris, 1556 and 1587), in which he endeavored to prove the French descended from the Trojans. We owe to him a description of the field of the cloth of gold, where he witnessed the meeting of Francis and Henry VIII. in 1520. He made concerning the magnificent and costly dresses of the courtiers there the remark often erroneously attributed to Henry IV., that "many carried their mills, their forests, and their meadows on their shoulders."
II. Jean du, brother of the preceding, a cardinal and diplomatist, born in 1492, died in Rome, Feb. 16, 1560. In 1527, being then bishop of Bayonne, he was sent on a mission to England, where Henry VIII. had already begun to show signs of rebellion. In 1532 he was made bishop of Paris, and in 1533 again sent to England, and induced Henry to agree that he would not further contend against the church, if time were given him to prepare a defence of his previous conduct. Du Bellay secured these terms from Pope Clement VII., but Henry did not keep the compact, and was excommunicated. Paul III. made him a cardinal in 1535, but he continued to reside in Paris, and when Charles V. entered France, and the king left the capital to march against the enemy, Du Bellay showed unexpected talent as a military commander, in putting the city into a state of defence. Throughout the war he proved himself an able officer, holding for most of the time the appointment of lieutenant general. On the accession of Henry II., however, he found himself supplanted by the cardinal de Lorraine, and retired to Rome, where he spent the remainder of his life.
He left several volumes of controversial writings concerning the diplomatic affairs of his time; and many letters, of which a few have been published as historical documents in the works of other authors. Several Latin poems from his pen were also published in Paris in 1546, under the title of Poemata Elegantissima. III. Joachim du, a French poet, canon of Notre Dame de Paris, born near Angers in 1524, died Jan. 1, 1560. He was a favorite with Francis I., with the queen of Navarre, and with Henry II. Though a priest, the license of the times allowed him to devote himself to a lady named Viole, on whom he wrote a collection of 115 sonnets, which he called his canticles. They were very successful. Du Bellay was called the French Ovid; and when, after spending three years with his uncle the cardinal du Bellay at the papal court, he published 183 sonnets entitled Regrets, and 47 on the antiquities of Rome, the public admiration extended across the channel, and was shared by the English Spenser, who translated and paraphrased several of the poems. His contemporary Ronsard being known as the prince de l'ode, Du Bellay was spoken of as the prince du sonnet.
Du Bellay's appointment as canon of Notre Dame in 1555 was probably obtained through his uncle's influence at Rome, as he paid no attention to ecclesiastical duties. Du Bellay's poetical works were voluminous, including, besides those already named, a Discours de la poesic, a metrical translation of the 4th and 5th books of the AEneid, and numerous odes, elegies, and minor poems. He also wrote in prose a celebrated Defense et illustration de la langue francoise. All these are found in his collected works (Paris, 2 vols. 8vo, 1567); and the last named was published in 1849.